fall off the wagon
Originally fall off the water wagon or fall off the water cart, referring to carts used to hose down dusty roads: see the 1901 quotation below. The suggestion is that a person who is “on the wagon” is drinking water rather than alcoholic beverages. The term may have been used by the early 20th-century temperance movement in the United States; for instance, William Hamilton Anderson (1874 – c. 1959), the superintendent of the New York Anti-Saloon League, is said to have made the following remark about Prohibition: “Be a good sport about it. No more falling off the water wagon. Uncle Sam will help you keep your pledge.”
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- (idiomatic) To cease or fail at a regimen of self-improvement or reform; to lapse back into an old habit or addiction.
- Though he fell off the wagon several times, he eventually succeeded in quitting.
- 2014 August 11, w:Dave Itzkoff, "Robin Williams, Oscar-Winning Comedian, Dies at 63 in Suspected Suicide," New York Times
- In 2006, he checked himself into the Hazelden center in Springbrook, Ore., to be treated for an addiction to alcohol, having fallen off the wagon after some 20 years of sobriety.
- 2018 Hyden, Steven (2018-09-08) , “His Sh*t’s F***ed Up: The Complicated Legacy of Warren Zevon”, in The Ringer, retrieved 2018-09-08
- “After nearly 17 years of sobriety, Zevon fell off the wagon hard when he was diagnosed.”
- ^ “On the wagon” in Michael Quinion, World Wide Words, created 18 July 1998, last updated 27 January 2006.
- ^ “wagon” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001–2021, retrieved 2019-10-08: “Phrase on the wagon "abstaining from alcohol" is attested by 1904, originally on the water cart.”
- ^ Robert Hendrickson (1997) The Facts on File Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins, rev. and exp. edition, New York, N.Y.: Facts On File, →ISBN.